When you walk around major police training events, you’ll no doubt see some older, highly respected instructors—who are physical train wrecks. Some are victims of line-of-duty injuries that would have killed lesser individuals. Others are victims of genetic disorders that they had no control over. But far too many, like myself, are victims of themselves. To be more specific, their broken bodies are the result of decades of overtraining in their teens, 20s and early 30s.
The sad part of this is that most of these self-broken individuals could have prevented this. The majority, like myself, had older trainers who told them, “Back the intensity of your training and workouts down a little. If you don’t, you’re going to regret it when you grow older.” But they, like myself, knew better. We were bullet proof, unconquerable and weren’t going to let anything stand in the way of the quest to increase their level of invincibility. So what was the early general training attitude of myself and these other one time invincible warriors? More is better, harder is better and if you’re not bleeding from the ears and eye sockets when your workout is complete, you’re a sissy!
Don’t Hinder Your Potential
Martial artists are probably the worst for unnecessarily abusing their bodies in training. There are martial artists (those who train three hours a week or so at the dojo). Then there’s the group I belonged to, which are martial artists—those who train every day; punch and kick through tons of concrete, boards and bricks; lift weights five days a week; and run every other day. This more is better training methodology works for a while. You’ll become tough as nails, incredibly strong and have incredible endurance. But what you won’t realize is that you’re actually hindering your future potential, instead of maximizing it.
What many don’t realize until it’s too late is that the training regimes that many of the die-hard martial artists follow were developed thousands of years ago, by people who died at 30 years of age. If you die at 30, I guess you can train like a madman your entire life with little negative effects. But now that I’m 50, I can tell you that I really wish I would’ve been smart enough to understand this simple concept: With age and experience, comes wisdom. I also wish I would’ve listened to those who were older, wiser and more experienced when they tried to tell me to back my training intensity down a little.
Think of it this way: Why do police car transmissions have a much shorter lifespan than the average civilian auto? Could it be because they’re pushed to their maximum limits most of the time they’re rolling? Think of your body as that transmission, and you’ll get the picture.
Work Out Less & Rest More
I live next door to a champion power lifter. He’s a big guy and has forearms like Popeye. During our last conversation, he was disappointed that although he successfully bench pressed 580 at his last meet, he faulted at 590. (I wish I were powerful enough to have had this particular disappointment.) With such incredible successes, he obviously knows the training game to develop paramount performance.
Another point we discussed was pertinent to this subject and this article. He said during a recent trip to the gym, a guy about my age approached him with this question: “How can I put on some muscle size? I’ve come here and lifted six days a week for two years, but I’m no bigger than I was when I started. What should I do?”
My neighbor’s answer was crisp, short and exactly correct: “Stay home four of those days.”
The fact of the matter that seems to escape so many of us is this: Your muscles don’t grow when you lift. They grow when you rest. My neighbor said he only works each muscle group twice a week. One workout is heavy, pushing the muscle to failure. The second workout is light, pushing only to minor levels of fatigue. They are spread evenly across the week, and the remaining time is rest, which allows the muscles to rebuild, and grow in size and strength. I can confirm the validity of this system from personal experience.
The first time in my life where I actually put on some muscle size was after being rear-ended at an accident scene in a stationary police car with overheads on. I was busted up pretty badly, and I couldn’t work out at the ridiculous intensity or frequency levels I had been. I started working each body part intensely one time a week. Low and behold, I actually started to put on some muscle size.
If you find yourself saying: “As much as I work out, I don’t understand why I’m not growing,” try the following for a while:
1. Find a competent trainer who can help you develop a reasonable workout routine; and
2. Work out less, and rest more.
The results may astound you now, and you’ll likely have much more enjoyable senior years.